Wednesday, September 20, 2006
By Chuck Finder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bill Cowher wasn't prepared to give a complete injury-status report yesterday heading into Sunday's game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. It had been barely 12 hours after the Steelers' 9-0 loss at Jacksonville. But he was able to clarify one medical misnomer:
Big Ben had a little fever.
In other words, Roethlisberger's mercury reading was exaggerated on the ESPN telecast Monday night and by various other media outlets afterward.
"The fever was 100.4. Not 104. Somebody miscalculated a decimal point," Cowher said tersely yesterday in what was mostly a terse news conference.
So that meant that the television reports were erroneous?
"I don't know," Cowher added with the same stern face as throughout, "I didn't watch any of the pregame shows."
The Steelers' coach -- whose offense mustered just 26 yards rushing for the lowest such total in Cowher's 236-game era and scored zero points for the first time in 41 regular- and postseason games -- didn't seem
ready to ascribe Roethlisberger's slight temperature increase as the reason for his third-year quarterback's subpar performance. He didn't seem ready to ascribe the 17-for-32 passing for 141 yards and two interceptions to any lingering problems or weariness from Roethlisberger's emergency appendectomy 15 days earlier.
Oh, and the reason for the fever? "The common cold, from what I was told," Cowher said. "I mean, I think [the reason for such a performance] is just the fact with everything that has gone on, it was his first game out. When you go from the preseason to the regular season, everybody's going through that period of acclimation to the speed of the game, because it does go up. Then you come into the second week of the season, and [the rest of the players] have already been through that first week of acclimation. He was probably a little behind in that standpoint.
"You know what, I thought he started the game, and threw some balls, pretty well. We were not in sync. ... And, some of that will take time. I remember, last week in practice, the first day we were out there, he completed a ball to Hines [Ward], and I told them that it was the first completion they had to each other in a month, since training camp.
"It has been a case of circumstances have not allowed us to be in sync in practice, and sometimes that does carry over into games. We certainly have to get better as a whole. It was one game, but there are a lot things we have to make sure we don't just think [are] going to get rectified over time. There has to be a sense of urgency in doing so, in all three phases. We're going to have to play better. And, certainly, there's no margin of error playing the team we're playing Sunday."